Carina Spreitzer grew up in the Austrian alps and speaks Russian fluently. We talked to the passionate Slavophile about her work for a Russian-German NGO, why you should try Pelmeni cooking at Red Square Festival in Berlin-Moabit and why Dostoevsky will have to wait.
Where are you from?
I was born in Lienz, in a small town in Austria and I grew up in Tyrol in between high mountains and beautiful nature.
So you grew up as German native-speaker but you speak Russian fluently – how come?
I’d always wanted to read Crime and Punishment in Russian, so I had to learn Russian first. During my studies I discovered my passion for Bulgakov. So, Dostoevsky still has to wait for a while.
Do you study Russian Studies?
I studied Political Science and Slavonic Studies in Vienna at the University of Vienna. Now I am studying Eastern European Studies at the Free University of Berlin.
How did you become interested in Eastern Europe? What interests you the most?
I cannot name a single reason or event that created my passion for Eastern Europe. When we talked about the history of the Russian Empire at school, the fascination was already there though I never really understood the country properly – it was just too far away. So, I studied Slavonic Studies to get to know Russia better. Although the geographical distance didn’t change, I feel much closer to the country now.
What brought you to Berlin?
I came to Berlin in October 2017. I came here for my studies but also to find a job that related to my passion for politics, civil engagement and Eastern Europe. I was very lucky to find one.
Where do you work?
I am working for Dekabristen e.V. alongside my studies. I am so happy to have such a job that combines my interests for Russia and civil engagement.
What makes your work so interesting?
Firstly, I’m learning effective Project Management works. The job is closely related to topics and the areas that interested me for which I am very grateful
Why is the German-Russian NGO important?
Dekabristen e.V. encourages people to believe in themselves, to teach them how they can create an effective and sustainable project out of a simple idea. It is especially important to support people and projects in Eastern Europe because they are often overlooked by local but also international politicians. The NGO tries highlight the innovations taking place outside of Western Europe and it gives people the opportunity to create international networks between activists in the West and in the East.
In May, Dekabristen e.V. organizes Red Square Festival in Berlin-Moabit. What is your role within the festival?
I’m one of the project coordinators of the Red Square Festival. I help with the organization and realization of the festival. I remember the idea in its early stages. I can’t wait to finally see the outcome of our work.
Why should we visit the Red Square Festival??
I like the mix of the festival. You can start your day by cooking Pelmeni, eating them while watching kids painting pictures like Chagall, join in at one of the expert panel discussions. Enjoy a good movie in the afternoon; listen to readings of young Berlin authors in the evening before dancing to one of the talented live acts well into the night. There are so many different options to enjoy your time at the festival. There is something for everyone.
What is Dekabristen’s contribution to Berlin and to its Russian community?
It adds to the multicultural character of Berlin and enriches the city. Dekabristen makes a contribution to the lively and colorful relationship between Germany and Eastern Europe. It fosters cultural dialogue and community rather than ideas of ‘otherness’ and intolerance. Dekabristen is an important piece of the puzzle in keeping Berlin the multicultural metropolis we all love.
What is your contribution to make Berlin a little bit more beautiful?
I am thinking of singing on the streets of Berlin from time to time. But I doubt that it would make the city more beautiful.
What do you love about Berlin?
I love to walk through the city without a fixed destination. Around every corner there is something new, unexpected, most of the time beautiful –sometimes shocking. Diversity and the coexistence of the old and the new. That is Berlin.
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
As I am quite new here in Berlin I am still in the process of exploring the city. I do not have a single favorite place yet. I like walking along the Spree in spring, shopping in Prenzlauer Berg. I love watching a movie in my favorite cinema near Hackescher Markt. And sometimes the best thing is just relaxing on my couch in Wilmersdorf.
To find out more about Carina Spreitzer and the Russian-German NGO Dekabristen e.V. go to their Facebook page.
Red Square Festival is organized by Dekabristen e.V. will be held on May 12, 2018 at Kulturfabrik Moabit. The festival aims to bring together music, art and civic initiatives into one multidisciplinary celebration. To find out more about the Red Square Festival visit their Facebook page, attend the Red Square Festival Facebook event and/or read more about Red Square festival on Berlinograd.com.